School of Health in Social Science

Autoethnography in transitionality

My doctoral project is focussed on the idea of transitionality, which draws from the work of Donald Winnicott.

by Gabriel Soler

Winnicott proposed that babies both create and at the same time find an object. From these very early experiences play and then cultural experience emerges, expressed as arts, sports, and religion amongst others. I am particularly interested in the experience of an entanglement/differentiation between inner and outer worlds, phantasy and reality. The necessity of thinking about transitionality emerged in my interest in aesthetic experiences. I consider that when we are creative, we are in another place that challenges the traditional distinction between subject and object, subjective experience and the external world. For my research, I am constructing a transitional framework, intermingling my autoethnographic writing, my art practice and theoretical reflection.

Transitionality as a concept refers to the entanglement of experience between the personal, collective and material. This space allows our creativity to emerge and makes our life meaningful. With it, I bring the idea of an unconscious-in-the-world, challenging traditional distinctions of inner and outer where the unconscious is ‘inside’. This concept is productive in my practice as a counsellor and researcher, as it allows me to explore ‘what matters’ from a creative-and-relational place. 

I am working with ideas proposed by Deleuze and Guattari, thinking about how to link the work of Winnicott with Anti-Oedipal psychoanalysis. I am thinking through concepts as body without organs, and desiring machines, as ways of proposing a ‘transitional’ field. I keep the concepts alive as I play with them in my art and I ground them in my stories.

This research is creative and relational as it is based on my art exploration and my being-with. Transitionality has become a productive concept that keeps inspiring my writing; hence, it keeps being transitional.